There is something grotesquely surreal about India’s political landscape. And the grotesqueness is increasing by the day. Nothing else explains the fact that the avowed enemies of freedom, Leftists and jihadists, have become its champions. The reason is not difficult to find: the wannabe Godses are hell-bent on bestowing the semblance of heroism on the orphaned progeny of Karl Marx and Osama bin Laden.
Comparing Sangh Parivar hotheads with Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, may be an exaggeration, for the killing of Gandhi was indeed a vilest crime; it was much greater than indulging in violence at a seminar. While the gravity is not comparable, the impulse that stimulated Gandhi’s murder was little different from the one that tries to stop opponents expressing their views.
Many people, including me, have been extremely critical of Gandhi. A few months ago, I wrote an article with the self-explanatory title ‘How Gandhi ruined India’ (http://www.thehinduchronicle.com/2016/10/gandhi-ruined-india/). Gandhi’s ideas were stupid and quixotic; his anti-intellect and anti-Western attitude has proved to be deleterious for the country. His politics might have hurt the Hindu cause, as Godse believed it did, but this did not give Godse the right to snuff life out of him.
While Gandhi’s ideas and influence have proved baneful for the country, nobody can deny the nobility of his character. He was the undisputed leader of his time; had he wanted, he could have grabbed power for himself, as the leaders of liberation movements all over the world do, but he did not aspire to hold any office. He is among a very few persons in the history of mankind who could have assumed power but did not do that.
Further, he never hurt anybody, didn’t desire to hurt anybody, not even those who physically hit and insulted him. Murdering such a man was the apogee of cruelty and despicability.
Had Godse been a decent human being, he would have opposed Gandhi’s ideas and ideals in a civilized manner; he would have fought Gandhi in the intellectual arena; he instead took a pistol and shot down the frail, old, unarmed, peace-loving man. Rarely was a murder fouler.
What is disheartening is that the contemporary Hindu nationalists, like Godse, condone the silencing of the views of others. Thankfully, their actions have not degenerated into what liberals call Hindu terror, but their proclivity to use violence grows by the day.
One reason that they, and others, are keen to take recourse to violence is that it brings instant publicity—well, opprobrium too but what the heck. They anyway don’t give two hoots to what decent people think. They want their 15 minutes of fame, and they get it. The media, especially the electronic one, loves action, and they too get it. Many top Hindutva leaders love the kind of attention the boys of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) attract by their vandalism and violence. It’s all so easy and quick.
What the Hindutva bosses and their storm-troopers miss is the fact that quick and ill-gotten fame, like quick and ill-gotten money, has consequences. Isn’t it the shameful failure of vociferous nationalists that their thuggish behavior has made heroes out of petty demagogues like Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid? That the subjects like Afzal’s culpability and integrity of India—on which there was never any debate, which were generally accepted as axiomatic truths—are now openly debated in the mainstream media? That the long-forgotten Leftists and abominable jihadists have acquired a verisimilitude of respectability? All because a bunch of ABVP goons thought that they were powerful enough to gag their opponents, that they could get publicity cheaply. The publicity, however, has proved to be costly to the nation, what with anti-India forces getting more prominence in public discourse.
ABVP leaders and activists would help the country and themselves by learning a few lessons from one of their own, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy. A firm believer in the rule of law, he didn’t physically assault the perpetrators of the 2G scam, J. Jayalalitha, Sasikala, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi; but he has proved to be their nemesis. It took him almost two decades to get Jayalalitha and Sasikala convicted; the latter is serving her sentence. He had to wait for years to bring 2G scamsters to book. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi too have criminal cases pending against them. Swamy’s success is the result of his assiduity, diligence, courage, patience, and erudition—the virtues very few, if any, saffronites can boast of.
It is time ABVP activists and other Hindutva votaries tried to emulate Swamy—and got the Godse virus out of their system. Otherwise, they would end up stigmatizing their ideology as Godse did by killing Gandhi.